Hindsight is 20/20: Ibexa DXP Year in Review

Hindsight is 20/20: Ibexa DXP Year in Review

The year 2020 was destined to be exceptional for all of us at Ibexa. In January 2020, the wheels had already been set in motion for big changes: Changing our company's name and a thorough rehash of our product offering. In our predictions for 2020 we didn't foresee the pandemic that's now affecting billions of people.

But despite the extraordinary circumstances we've been able to move forward with our plans as expected. In a sense I feel the past 12 months have brought more change to the company and its products than the 12 years that preceeded it. This has meant a lot of work for everyone at Ibexa from engineering to sales to marketing and finance.

A lot of the work has been taken place behind the scenes, but a lot of it is also tangible to our customers and partner network: significant product releases, new and improved online services and marketing collateral based on our new brand identity.

Shedding our skin: From eZ Systems to Ibexa

While a lot of the work in the transition from eZ Systems to Ibexa in late April was a  huge hands-on effort, ultimately the work would have not been done without bold business decisions. Moving from the CMS space that has become a commodity, Ibexa now has a renewed focus on the Digital Experience Platform (DXP) market.

While Ibexa DXP continues to be a general purpose development platform, we have chosen to have a focus on our Digital Experience Platform to be premier tool for B2B Digital Transformation, a change that has been further accelerated by the coronavirus and the COVID-19 outbreak. As a part of this strategy we identified that once size does not fit all businesses, leading to the introduction of a family of products based on Ibexa DXP technology: Ibexa Content, Ibexa Experience and Ibexa Commerce.

With the different products we can better serve the needs of businesses in different stages of digital transformation with more flexible pricing. This also allow us to better fit into diverse technology architectures, and saving on cost for not paying for features you don't need (yet). For example, an enterprise at an advanced level of digital transformation could deploy Ibexa Content on their own infrastructure as a Headless CMS for complex content managements needs and high throughput.

On the other hand, a business in the manufacturing industry could better get started in their experience transformation journey with Ibexa Experience hosted on Ibexa Cloud. This will allow them to get started with a B2B sales portal without investment in their own DevOps personnel. Later in their transition they can upgrade to Ibexa Commerce to enable end-to-end digital commerce with an online B2B commerce site.

We think that 2021 is the year of e-business and growth in B2B. We are here to help.

Online services and Content in 2020

The brand renewal coincided with a complete rebuild of our public online web properties. The venerable ez.no domain was replaced by ibexa.co and behind the scenes we moved from eZ Publish to eZ Platform. We did some content migration for blog posts and partners, but the content architecture, implementation and design were implemented from scratch between March and April 2020 on eZ Platform 3.0.

Following the release we've let the platform stabilize and have rolled out new features like blog author profiles and subtle improvements like a new design for the footer. With the launch of Ibexa DXP v3.2 (more on that later) we upgraded from eZ Platform to Ibexa Experience. At the same time we also sunsetted the eZ Platform developer site (ezplatform.com) and launched the Ibexa Developer Portal at developers.ibexa.co.

Finally in early December we launched an updated partner portal at partners.ibexa.co. All of the sites are running on the latest versions of our software on Ibexa Cloud, so we are truly drinking our own champagne as Roland Benedetti would say. We'll keep momentum in 2021 and will continue to improve the experience for our customer, partner and developer audiences. And not to forget our internal staff with the latest features, like the brand new Image Editor coming in Ibexa DXP 3.3 (LTS).

The design and technical upgrades are ultimately just a tool, an empty shell without quality content. But the people at Ibexa have certainly kept the anvil hot, hammering out articles from business insight to deep dives to tech and security. I don't want to pick any favorites, so be sure to visit our blog and discover for yourself. Propeller-heads should check the tech webinar on the Aggregation API in Ibexa DXP.

In addition to all the blog posts, brochureseBooks and other content resources, we've kept ourselves busy with events. The first one was the Partner Conference 2020 in Malaga in January. This was followed by a series of Ibexa Engage 2020 online events held in English, German, French, Polish and Spanish in May and June. The next event is the Ibexa Global Partner Conference on January 14 - 15, 2021 (and if you have not yet done so, do register for the event), still held online for safety.

In addition to large events, we've organized and participated a number of webinars on our own and in collaboration with our partner network. Visit the Events & Webinars section to sign up for upcoming events and view on-demand recordings of past webinars. Our documentation has also received a design refresh and we plan to continue improve on the structure and content in the months to come.

Saving the best for last: Product updates

The first sections in this article did not reveal a lot about what has happened at Ibexa product wise. But this was not because progress would've been hampered by an organizational shuffle or that design changes would've been just lipstick on a pig. Quite the contrary, the product has received significant technical upgrades under the hood, new killer features and a major visual refresh that also improved usability.

From the technical perspective the launch of eZ Platform v3.0 was a major milestone. It upgraded our core backend framework from Symfony 3.4 to Symfony 5.x, this brought both new features and improvements to developer experience. 3.0 was an opportunity for engineering to do some housekeeping, making for an even stronger foundation for the future. We were the first major product in the Symfony ecosystem to adopt Symfony 5, giving us access to the latest and greatest that PHP has to offer.

With eZ Platform 3.1 a major theme was integrating B2B e-commerce software we acquired in January 2020 into our product. In addition to commerce integration, 3.1 brought other improvements like Elasticsearch support and APIs for repository filtering. The next leg was the launch of 3.2, which was significant in the term that it was our first Ibexa DXP version. With Ibexa DXP we also made a significant change to the way we package our product. Instead of a single product (eZ Platform), we now have a family of three: Ibexa Content, Ibexa Experience and Ibexa Commerce.

The products are all built on the Ibexa DXP technology that is a direct successor to eZ Platform. eZ Platform continues to be supported as described in our Product Service Life documentation, but there will no longer be new major or minor versions to eZ Platform or eZ Platform Enterprise Edition (EE). Upgrading from eZ Platform to Ibexa Content, Ibexa Experience or Ibexa Commerce is both feasible and recommended, latest by the time that eZ Platform 2.5 (LTS) reaches end of life (EOL) in March 2024.

There is a lot more to Ibexa DXP v3.2 than just the new name. There were technical improvements, new end-user facing features. But most notably a major overhaul to the administration interface to match the Ibexa brand. The new design is cleaner and more importantly sets a direction for the user interface design for our back office, including an integrated Ibexa Personalization UI. We continue with the succesfull server rendered and React.js enriched architecture introduced in eZ Platform 2.0.

The next waypoint for Ibexa DXP is version 3.3. There are more new features like the Image Editor mentioned earlier. In addition, it includes further technical improvements with adopting Symfony Flex, improving our GraphQL APIs, and much more we'll share with you very soon. The Ibexa DXP 3.3 release is a Long Term Supported (LTS) version that will receive support for a number of years, similar to the 1.13 and 2.5 LTS versions before it. It is a stable foundation for companies to take their business to the next level — no matter what level your team is starting from.

For full details on the software releases from Ibexa in 2020, see these posts:

Considerations for Creating Rich Customer Experiences

DXP eBook

If you are struggling with your B2B digital transformation efforts, why not reach out to us to discuss your project. Feel free to download and read Ibexa's eBook on Digital Experience Platforms and the four considerations for creating exceptional customer experiences.

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